WSESD Policy and Amendment Committee Agenda and Minutes

November 29, 2022 at 2:30pm
in the WSESU Central Office Conference Room, 53 Green Street, Brattleboro

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I Approval of Minutes from 11/15/22

II Update of Board action on 11/22 for 1st Reading:
F10 – Reporting Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect
F21 – Policy on the use of Restraint and Seclusion
F35 – School Animal Policy

III. Continue Review
H7 Leadership Councils

F38 Prevention of Sexual Harassment as Prohibited by Title IX
Title IX Coordinator, Kate Margaitis, is invited to comment.

IV. New Business
B2 Board Goal-Setting and Self-Evaluation
B1 Board Member Education
C7 Board Relations with Administrators (re-adopted 9/27/22)

Consider the following 4 policies as a unit:
D2 Professional Development
G8 Local Action Plan
G1 Curriculum Development and Coordination
D4 Educator Supervision and Evaluation

V. Additional Policies highlighted by the Policy and Amendment Committee for review
H2 Parent Involvement Policy
F1 Student Conduct and Discipline (Hold pending review of all related policies)
D1 Personnel-Recruitment, Selection, Appointment, and Background Checks (Regarding including students in the hiring process)

Meeting to conclude at 4:30.


Note: These proposed minutes should be considered preliminary until they are approved by the committee at a future meeting.


Policy & Amendment Committee Members Present: Chair Deborah Stanford (DS), Anne Beekman
(AB), Tim Maciel (TM), Via Zoom – Liz Adams (LA)
Policy & Amendment Committee Members Absent: none
WSESU/SD Staff and Administrators Present: Mark Speno, Wendy M. Levy, Barb Nowakowski, Paul
Media Present: none
Others Present: none
Chair DS called the meeting to order at 3pm.
DS gave the “hybrid meeting” statement.
The minutes were approved by unanimous consent of DS, TM, and LA. AB is a recent appointee to the
committee, thus she did not cast a vote.
DS recommended extending the meeting by a half-hour to begin at 2:30pm to allow the committee to
get more work done. A discussion ensued. LA, TM, DS, Mark Speno, Barb Nowakowski, and Paul
Smith agreed.
The committee agreed to meet by consensus on November 29 from 2:30-4:30pm.
D7 Volunteers and Work Study Students
E8 Tobacco/Nicotine Prohibition
F39 Students Experiencing Temporary Housing Insecurity
All policies were approved by the WSESD Board.

H7 Leadership Councils
This is on hold until the next meeting.

F35 School Animal Policy
DS noted this policy is continuing to be reviewed because of concerns expressed by Brattleboro resident Rikki Risatti. Mx. Risatti said they would like the district to provide animal waste stations for support animals.

While animals are prohibited from coming to school with their owners, support/guide/law-enforcement animals are exempt from this prohibition. But, there is no mention in the policy of these animals’ waste.

Mr. Speno recommended not providing animal waste stations because school staff does not want to deal with animal waste. DS added that providing these stations could invite neighbors to walk their dogs on school yards.

The consensus was to present this policy, as written, at the next board meeting for its first reading.

F10 Reporting Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect

DS said this policy is continuing to be reviewed because of LA’s recommendation to add more people to the list of reporters for safety and communications purposes.
A discussion ensued. Highlights included:
Mr. Speno noted the administration made an edit to read that reports would go directly to the Vermont Department of Children and Families (DCF).
Ms. Nowakowski added that the new edit includes submitting reports to the administration, too, so it’s not just DCF who will receive them.
LA advocated for having multiple reporters contacting DCF, and having it not just be the staff who reports to the principal who reports to the superintendent. She noted that years ago, that system went badly.
DS noted the mandated reporter communicates directly to DCF.
Mr. Speno and Ms. Nowakowski said they will draft a list of designated employees (DEs) at every school who will send reports for every school, and the list will include two people from each school and the principal. This list will be attached to the policy. This list is consistent with Policy F23 (which addresses hazing, harassment, and bullying).
Mr. Smith asked if it’s okay for DCF to possibly receive three identical reports, which could happen if there are three DEs at every school.
Mr. Speno responded: That’s not how it will work. The DEs will be alerted, but because they received the report “third-hand,” they won’t submit the report to DCF. He added having more DEs at every school is helpful because often a report is a judgement call. DS added that having multiple DEs will help reduce the burden on each DE.
DS asked if the policy should include a sentence about the DEs. Mr. Speno responded: Not necessary because that is addressed in “Process.”
A further discussion ensued on the process, and who are a school’s DEs.
Ms. Nowakowski said she would include a sentence in the policy: “Consult your designated employee” for each site.
LA recommended having more than three DEs at BUHS because it’s a bigger school. Ms. Nowakowski said she will add all counselors, the three nurses, and the administration to BUHS’s list of DEs.
AB noted that students can report to anyone. DS added that when that happens, that person then becomes a mandated reporter.
Ms. Nowakowski noted the Executive Secretary has to update the policy every summer to reflect the coming year’s new DEs.

A discussion ensued on what happens when the accused is the principal or a staff member. The consensus was, Don’t change the policy because this is addressed in “Process.”
A discussion ensued on whether, and how, to maintain records for reports that DCF returns with “no finding” so that repeated questionable behavior does not “slip through the cracks.” Ms. Nowakowski noted that, even though retention schedules exist for these kinds of files, the district’s policy is to never purge records.
The consensus was that this policy is ready for its first reading.

F23 Policy on the Prevention of Harassment, Hazing, and Bullying of Students
(Re-adopted by WSESD Board on 9/13/22)
DS noted this policy was passed, but on October 3, LA sent an email with her concerns: Under “Implementation,” the policy should be changed to require the consent of the victim. LA’s concern is that reporting could lead to retaliation against the victim. A discussion ensued. Highlights included:

Because this is a legal issue dictated by federal law, counsel should be consulted, and it’s unlikely this policy can be changed.
The policy already includes specific steps for this.
The policy’s origins are likely from the Agency of Education.
How and when to act on a report.
The fear of reporting is addressed by maintaining a safe climate in each school, not by policy.
The steps for reporting are listed with the policy in student handbooks.
An additional section of the student handbook will discuss in age-appropriate language the steps for reporting.

The consensus was that this policy should be left as-is.


F38 Prevention of Sexual Harassment as Prohibited by Title IX (Required) (22 pages)

DS recommended the following edits:
On page 7, at the bottom, letter “E,” #3: Add “guardian” to “prior parent approval” to make it consistent with all other “parent/guardian” references.
On page 2, letter “B.” Does “complainant” mean when something is reported verbally? This is ambiguous. A discussion ensued. Because this might be dictated by federal law, Ms. Nowakowski recommended seeking guidance.
DS asked if the Title IX Coordinator is not considered the complainant because they are signing for someone else. The consensus was that, yes, they are a third-party complainant.
TM requested this be part of the staff’s Act I training, especially for on-boarding new principals, and that it be reviewed annually.
The consensus was to invite Kate Margaitis, who is the district’s Title IX Coordinator, to the next meeting to discuss this. And, this item was tabled until the next meeting for that reason.
F21 Policy on the Use of Restraint and Seclusion
A discussion ensued. Highlights included:

The VSBA edited this section and it is very spare.
DS recommended rejecting their edits. Ms. Nowakowski agreed, because more information is better.
DS recommended keeping every definition, the numeric listing, and the gender-neutral pronouns. She recommended rejecting their edits, and the gender-specific pronouns. She recommended adding a report to the schedule of annual reports from the board to the superintendent.
A discussion on seclusion spaces, which included: definitions existing on the form and in the policy, and only trained professionals conduct restraints in schools.
LA said she still had concerns with the rooms used for seclusion. A discussion ensued on typical seclusion procedures in schools.

The consensus was that this policy, with edits, is ready for its first reading.

DS noted that at the next meeting, the committee will discuss Leadership Councils.

B2 Board Goal-Setting and Self-Evaluation

This will be addressed at the next meeting.

DS asked her colleagues to let her know if they see other policies that need work.

TM recommended the committee work on the four policies D2, G8, G1, and D4 in the next month. DS agreed, and said they can do that at the next meeting.

DS adjourned the meeting at 4:34pm.
Documents presented:
Submitted by Wendy M. Levy from minutes taken by Wendy M. Levy
This represents my understanding of the above dated meeting. If you have any changes, please submit
them at the next committee meeting

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